What is the best way for me to have a self-drive Safari holiday in Namibia?
Namibia’s best wildlife viewing is in the north. There are three main regions: Northern Damaraland and Kaokoland, Etosha National Park, and The Zambezi Region. Of the three, Etosha is the most accessible and contained, and the best destination for a short visit. Damaraland and Kaokoland are enormous areas, with scattered populations of desert-adapted animals: rhino, elephant and lion in particular. In the relatively lush Zambezi Region, a number of small parks lie close together and there’s good game and bird viewing, plus the opportunity to angle for tigerfish on the Zambezi River.
Etosha is a 4.5-hour drive from Windhoek and is the easiest safari destination in Namibia. The road from Windhoek is paved and inside the park the dirt roads around the pan are well-graded and suitable for all types of vehicle. Once in the park you barely have to move to have incredible wildlife sightings. Each camp is built near a large waterhole and during the dry winter months (from May to October) the animals gather in large numbers to drink.
The waterhole at Okaukuejo Camp is famous, a large pool with raised seats on one side and floodlights for night-time viewing. Thousands of animals frequent the waterhole each day and it’s an excellent place to see elephants playing in the water just metres away. If you arrive at any waterhole in the park and it’s quiet, that may mean there are lions about. Always have a thorough look around before moving on.
Etosha is ideal for a short visit of up to a week. If you have time, you can then head west into Northern Damaraland or east to the Zambezi Region. Namibia’s ultimate wildlife safari route takes in both, first driving west through Etosha’s Galton Gate, across to the Palmwag Concession, then up through Kaokoland to the Kunene River, before turning back east for a final few days along the Zambezi. This wonderful circuit requires at least three weeks and combines guaranteed sightings in Etosha, the prospect of rare desert wildlife in Damaraland and Kaokoland, and the prolific animals, birds and tigerfish in the Zambezi Region.
Northern Kaokoland, however, should not be attempted lightly. It’s an extremely remote region without supplies or water. Much of Damaraland and all of Kaokoland is 4x4 only and you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient to travel here. There are very few public campsites and even fewer lodges so be prepared to wild camp as you go.